USDA Grants Available for Meat Processors (& Producers)
First off, all federal grants require you to first register in the System for Award Management (SAM), then register with Grants.gov. This process can take up to 4 weeks, so keep that in mind for proposal due dates.
You do not need to hire a grantwriter to submit a winning proposal, but it could help. Understand that skilled grantwriters often have a lot of clients with similar deadlines. Start looking for one well ahead of time if you plan to apply. They generally will need to budget around 40-80 hours to complete your proposal, depending on how much information you can provide them for the application. This could cost you anywhere between $4-10K, depending on the size and scope of your proposal. The more you can dedicate towards writing your proposal, the less time and cost you will need from your grantwriting consultant. Try to give yourselves 6-8 weeks to put together your proposal and do not wait until the last minute.
If you need letters of support for your proposal, ask your partner/supporters well ahead of time for that letter. Even better, put together a draft letter for them to use and sign, that way there is less work for them to do.
If a grant program offers instructional webinars beforehand that dive deeper into the nuts and bolts of a program and how to apply, it is worth your time to attend them or watch the replay.
Technical Assistance Support:
Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program (MPPTA): As part of Biden-Harris Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has established cooperative agreements with three non-profit organizations to coordinate and provide technical assistance utilizing a wide range of expertise and outreach strategies. These organizations will also establish a national network of support for meat and poultry grant applicants to navigate the application process, and to assist grant recipients throughout their project. The Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN) is one of those organizations.
We are offering technical assistance via one-on-one phone calls with a suite of expert consultants that we have assembled for this project. You can book a free 30-60 minute phone call with one of them, and receive some follow up by email if necessary. If you are thinking of applying for a federal grant, have already received one, or are just wanting a sounding board about some big decisions you want to make, feel free to book a call with 1 or more of these industry experts.
The consultants, and their expertise, are as follows:
Grant-writing advice and how to put together a winning proposal. Also how to manage, report, and invoice for a grant you have received (implementation phase):
Alex Freeman & Brooke Miller of Agriculture Grant Solutions
Abbe Turner, consultant
Facility planning (feasibility studies, business planning, facility considerations:
Keith DeHaan & Samantha Egolf of Food & Livestock Planning
Supply chain development (aggregation, securing supply, selling the whole animal, finding buyers, pricing, etc):
Kathryn Quanbeck, consultant
Operations, equipment, food safety, human resources, & steps to come under inspection:
Chris Fuller, Fuller Consulting
Tracy Smaciarz, consultant
Arion Thiboumery, consultant
Dr. Joe M. Regenstein, professor at Cornell University
Spanish language support/Ayuda en español, as well as food safety and processing equipment questions:
Francisco Najar-Villareal PhD., Ultrasource
USDA Intermediary Lending Program Grants currently open:
From the USDA announcement:
What does this program do?
The Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program (MPILP) provides grant funding to intermediary lenders who finance – or plan to finance – the start-up, expansion, or operation of slaughter, or other processing of meat and poultry. The objective of the MPILP is to strengthen the financing capacity for independent meat processors, and to create a more resilient, diverse, and secure U.S. food supply chain.
What types of intermediaries can apply for this program?
Private nonprofit corporations, public agencies, Tribes, and cooperatives that finance – or plan to finance – the start-up, expansion, or operation of meat and poultry processing are eligible to apply.
Who are eligible ultimate recipients?
Businesses engaged, or proposing to engage, in the processing of meat or poultry – either directly, or through agreements with other entities – can apply for a loan from the intermediary lender as an ultimate recipient.
Ultimate recipients must:
- Be a business engaged, or proposing to engage, in commercial meat or poultry processing projects; either directly, or through agreements with other entities
- Comply with USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service requirements, or be custom exempt
How can funds be used?
Grant funds to intermediaries can be used to operate and expand meat and poultry processing capacity by supporting activities such as:
- Purchasing and developing land
- Constructing a new facility
- Modernizing or expanding an existing facility
- Developing, installing, or modernizing equipment and technology
- Improving leaseholds
- Ensuring compliance with occupational and other safety requirements
- Modernizing equipment or facilities to ensure food safety
- Refinancing debt
- Purchasing cooperative stock (by individual farmers or ranchers in a farmer or rancher cooperative)
- Purchasing transferable cooperative stock
- Making loans to a fund that invests primarily in cooperatives (in accordance with the provisions of the program)
- Qualifying taxable corporate bonds
- Paying for feasibility studies for meat and processing facilities
- Undertaking pollution control and abatement
- Handling waste management
- Offsetting start-up costs, working capital, fees and other expenses related to federal inspection
What is the maximum grant amount?
The maximum, aggregate grant award is $15 million, and applicants can apply for funds up to this aggregate amount in more than one cycle. The minimum grant award is $500,000.
Are there any other requirements?
Eligible applicants must:
- Have – or plan to develop – capacity and expertise in meat and poultry processing lending
- Have the capacity to conduct outreach and marketing, underwrite loan applications, and provide the servicing and monitoring of the proposed portfolio
- Have the legal authority to carry out the proposed grant purposes, including operating and administering a revolving loan
How do I apply?
Check the grants notice at grants.gov.
Who can answer questions?
Questions can be submitted by email to MPILP@usda.gov.
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Grant Programs currently open:
From the USDA announcement:
NIFA is leading two funding opportunities:
- Extension Risk Management Education and Sustainable Agriculture Research Education Programs: An investment of $5 million will be split equally between Extension Risk Management Education and Sustainable Agriculture Research Education programs. Work in these programs will support development of meat and poultry processing training and educational materials for place-based needs, particularly relevant to small- or medium-sized farmers and ranchers. Additionally, training local and/or regional meat and poultry workers presents a unique opportunity to address the demand from niche markets, like mobile processing units fulfilling market demand from fresh markets, on-site processing, farm-to-fork (restauranteurs), boutique grocers and others.
- Community/Technical College Ag Workforce Training and Expanded Learning Opportunities: This Agricultural Workforce Training (AWT) investment makes available $20 million to qualified community colleges to support meat and poultry processing workforce development programs. The AWT program seeks to develop a workforce ready for the field as well as industry jobs in the food and agricultural sectors. By creating new workforce training programs, or expanding, improving, or renewing existing workforce training programs at community, junior, and technical colleges/institutes, this program will expand job-based, experiential learning opportunities, acquisition of industry-accepted credentials and occupational competencies for students to enable a workforce for the 21st century.
- To sign up for notifications of these and other NIFA funding opportunities, visit NIFA’s website.
USDA also announced today more support to strengthen the American food supply chain as part many actions that USDA is taking to expand processing capacity and increase competition in meat and poultry processing to make agricultural markets more accessible, fair, competitive, and resilient for American farmers and ranchers.
NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and Extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. In FY 2021, NIFA’s total investment was $1.96 billion.
Visit our website: www.nifa.usda.gov; Twitter: @USDA_NIFA; LinkedIn: USDA-NIFA.